August 30, 2019 Message to Members

Welcome Back

When I think of our members in your schools during August, I can visualize exactly what you are doing. Finalizing timetables. Greeting and consulting with your staff. Updating handbooks, websites and newsletters. Inspecting your schools to ensure safety. And following up on 1001 details that will spell success for your students on opening day.

There’s a mix of emotions on the return to school, a pull between the time you have just spent with family and friends and the excitement of the time ahead as you welcome students back for another year. Some of you will have smooth and routine returns, others may experience hiccups and for a few there may be more urgent matters that draw your attention.

I’ve had the absolute pleasure of serving as President for more than a year now, and reaching out weekly through these columns, so my next words won’t come as a surprise: in the whirl of preparation and the laser focus of leading in these early weeks, make sure that you are taking care of yourselves.

Recently when I’ve chatted with colleagues or presented to groups and committees about personal wellbeing, I typically hear a solid understanding of why wellbeing is important and what wellbeing looks like. But I’ve frequently felt that the how is less clear. When we discuss strategies and supports for ‘work-life balance’ – or as it is being rebranded, ‘life-work balance’ – I find my conversations to be more prescriptive. I might say: We need to give ourselves permission to set boundaries. These boundaries need to reflect our school community and personal shared values. They need to be communicated in a very transparent way with our school community, friends, colleagues and family. How we each achieve this will be contextual, but I hope that you can allow yourselves to consider the how.

A simple start can be changing the way you manage your emails, and letting your colleagues know your communication strategy for the year. Or setting aside time each week for meaningful connection with a peer. Or nourishing your own professional development by setting reading goals.

The process of establishing boundaries is within your control and can be as simple as you need it to be: while it can be hard to let go, breathing deeply away from your working life and changing the channel for just a moment will allow you to recharge and return with energy and increased efficiency.

Good luck to all of our members as you open your schools next week.

Take Care,

David